ASL sign language bingo returned to the Strathmore Library last weekend, which was the first time it was held on a weekend.
Dee-Ann Wagner Mercer started the group Signing Strathmore and has been practicing with the community for years. She says ASL bingo has been within the group for years, and is hoping to grow the event to promote learning and using sign language while also enjoying a fun time with other community members.
"The reason I started Signing Strathmore is I wanted a place for people to be able to come together and practice and use sign. ASL is easy to forget if you don’t use it," she said.
While Dee Ann practices sign language with the community, she said she is not a certified ASL teacher, but they use some online resources and practice the language together in a relaxed, fun setting.
“Sign language, if you don’t use it you lose it, I do not have the means to get to the closed deaf community and knew of many people wanting to learn but also not able to go to Calgary. We have used an online resource a lot with a certified teacher and we are just doing our thing. Everyone that comes knows I’m late deafened and no teacher, many argue with me that I am one but no this is why I am not. I am only sharing what I know and trying to keep the skills I do know within the community,” she explained.
ASL bingo works exactly like a normal game of bingo, except the letters and numbers are signed. Wagner Mercer says bingo offers a great way to practice or review letters and numbers and also offers various difficulty levels to make the game accessible to all. There are two bingo callers, and the beginner-level caller for people new to ASL or juniors signs the numbers 0-9 and verbally calls out the other numbers. The second bingo caller uses all number handshapes.
"We offer number learning and practice time before gameplay as well as a paper handout with numbers to help you."
"When someone gets a bingo? You sign bingo or if you forget you do the 'I win' dance and everyone gets the idea!"
Because she's been running Signing Strathmore for several years, she said the event went smoothly without any challenges, and hopes more people come join in. Wagner Mercer said they normally do bingo during Signing Strathmore's normal weekly meeting times of Wednesday evenings, but thought a weekend might have been more accessible for junior signers. While some junior signers were able to make it, she said weekends "are so busy for most, so many of our regulars could not make it."
Wagner Mercer plans to bring ASL bingo back to Strathmore during seniors' week in June, which would be the first time bingo is held in June. She also expects another session to be held in September or October, and is looking forward to hosting another fun bingo day.
"Getting more people out would be fabulous, I'm looking forward to it!"
Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to email@example.com